When it comes to love, there is a question that some people have. It goes like this. I know what love is, but why on earth should I bother to love other people at all? As someone has said to me, what have people done for me to deserve their love? It is a valid question. Why should we love others? The world cannot answer that question. Its only response is that we should love because it is good for us. Which is true but if that is all there is then love is pure self-love. The Bible gives us the answer:
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:7-11)
John starts by calling followers of Jesus, “beloved”. It is a term that expresses John’s love for them. But most important that all followers of Jesus are beloved of God. Therefore we have every reason to love others. As 1 John 4:11 says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”.
Let me illustrate with a modern fairy tale. A certain wealthy young man, David is looking for love. Because David is rich, he can’t trust that any woman he dates truly loves him. So he decides to move into Bexleyheath and rents a simple flat. He starts work as a part-time waiter at Zizzi restaurant. He pretends to be an average guy.
He dates several women, until finally he hits it off with a beautiful girl called Ruth. Ruth steals David’s heart! They call each other on the phone and talk for days! As soon as they declare their love for each other, David secretly starts planning everything for their future life together as husband and wife! He buys a mansion for Ruth, and a beautiful ring. He even books a honeymoon in the Maldives.
And then when he has done everything, David reserves a table at a fancy Italian restaurant on Broadway and takes Ruth to dinner! At the right point in the evening, David nervously gets on his knees, opens the box with the ring, and asks Ruth, “Will you marry me?” The place goes silent as Ruth put her hand to her mouth in excitement, and with tears in her eyes, she says, “Yes! Yes, I will marry you!” Applause erupts in the restaurant.
And when all this is happening, David’s people work behind the scene to move all of Ruth’s clothes and personal items into her new mansion. They set up appointment for choosing wedding cakes, dresses and the whole lot! A few days later David and Ruth have a huge fairy-tale wedding and live happily thereafter.
How do you think Ruth’s life would turn out? Do you think Ruth has a good chance of loving David husband and his relatives? Or do you think Ruth would go on to live a life of deceit and hatred? It would not be a fairy-tale if things turned out that way, and it is not the way our story ends!
We are Ruth in the story. God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived an ordinary life and died on the cross for our sins so that we can have life with God As soon as we say yes to Him, Jesus brings us into union with God and bestows on us the vast and eternal riches of His love!
Once we understand and experience the love of Jesus in our life, we cannot help but to love Jesus and his family (the church) more! John is saying, if we find ourselves not loving others, in face of such great love, then there is something seriously wrong. In short hatred means that we are still in darkness!
Maybe you have suffered heartache in the past at the hands of people who claim to be followers of Jesus. In your heart you wish they didn’t even belong to this fellowship or come anywhere near you! Or maybe it is something your neighbour or your relative or your work colleague has done to you.
Well knowing that God loves you in Jesus, should immediately make you come before God and confess your struggles to love those who have hurt us and ask God to help you love them as he has loved you! This is painful – and that is why God invites us to look at the cross afresh and ponder all that Jesus has done for you! On the cross of Jesus can move us to love others.
All of us need to examine ourselves our fresh. Does the cross of Jesus really motivate me to love others or am I still living in darkness? If you belong to Jesus love is your new normal! So you must love others. Love others because you are loved by God and enabled by God to love!
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2017